• Auditory;
  • Cortex;
  • Visual;
  • Selective attention;
  • Dichotic listening;
  • Mismatch negativity;
  • Intermodal


Auditory event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded during auditory and visual selective attention tasks. Auditory stimuli consisted of frequent standard tones (1000 Hz) and infrequent deviant tones (1050 Hz and 1300 Hz) delivered randomly to the left and right ears. Visual stimuli were vertical line gratings randomly presented on a video monitor at mean intervals of 6 s. During auditory attention, the subject attended to the stimuli in a designated ear and responded to the 1300-Hz deviants occurring among the attended tones. During visual attention, the subject responded to the occasional visual stimuli. ERPs for tones delivered to the attended ear were negatively displaced relative to ERPs elicited by tones delivered to the unattended ear and to ERPs elicited by auditory stimuli during visual attention. This attention effect consisted of negative difference waves with early and late components. Mismatch negativities (MMNs) were elicited by 1300-Hz and 1050-Hz deviants irrespective of whether they occurred among attended or unattended tones. MMN amplitudes were unaffected by attention, supporting the proposal that the MMN is generated by an automatic cerebral discrimination process.